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Green baize simulations have proved incredibly popular in video game format over the years, with many excellent offerings on the Amiga and the PC. While there may already be a handful of pool sims on Playstation, snooker games are only just starting to evolve. Jimmy White's 2: Cueball is set to tackle both fronts head on.
The spiritual ancestor of Cueball is the monster selling title 'Jimmy Whites Whirlwind Snooker', first release on the PC, Amiga, Atari ST, and Megadrive between 1991 and 1994. It was a number one game on each platform and was followed up by Archer Maclean's Pool, for the American market.
Now it's time for Playstation gamers to rack 'em and stack 'em. So if snooker, pool, darts, draughts, bandits or a retro video game are your idea of a fun past time then chalk your tip up and hop on 'board for potentially a Whirlwind experience.
Sound and Vision:
If first impressions are anything to go by then Jimmy White's 2: Cueball should logically be a cracker of game. At the front end you are presented with a seriously detailed and lavishly textured Edwardian mansion. Virtually everything on the inner walls can be wandered up to and looked at close inspection by moving the d-pad from left to right or activating a continuous fly-by mode from the perspective of a bee. At the end of the long hallway is a photograph of the Whirlwind leaning on a giant cueball. To either side, amid various works of art, stand two doors, behind which lie the snooker room and the pool hall.
At this point the game splits into two completely different environments. The snooker room is set in a warm, darkened living quarters. Again the entire location may be inspected to reveal an old wireless set that spits out a selection of plinky-plonk piano tunes such as the BBC's adopted snooker theme music, The Entertainer. In a darkened corner a game of draughts can be seen set up, while on the opposite wall a dartboard is illuminated by a downward facing spotlight. Finally the all important snooker table is set out centre stage in front of a roaring coal fire. All very cozy!
Moving across the hall the poolroom is set in a much cooler environment. Naturally a bar is set up in the corner, while the funky music selection may be chosen from a psychedelic Twirlitzer jukebox. Near the door is a playable one-arm-bandit alongside a working flat-topped video game of Archer McLean's Dropzone. Once again the pool table takes centre stage with balls racked up and ready to go.
Before playing a game on either table there are a couple of demo modes worth mentioning. You can set up and save your very own trickshots and then have a go yourself, or get Jimmy White to play from your layout. There's even a demo where you can watch Jimmy play at his best.
Of course it's not a motion captured Jimmy White you're playing. It's actually a pair of animated, white-gloved, floating hands that act out the duties of the computer opponents and the referee. It works very well and after a few pots you forget that there's 'no-body' there.
Now that you know a little more about the ghostly opposition it is possibly worth mentioning that each shot may be viewed from a top down, or a first person viewing angle. There is also the option to zoom in and back out of a shot. Personally I would have much preferred there to be a free camera mode allowing full movement around the table to better judge angles.
The pace of the ball does seem to differ according to whether playing pool or snooker, but I generally found the overall frame rate to be a little on the slow side. On the snooker table what I would consider to be a full-blooded shot barely seems to tickle the object balls. I also noticed when looking at the balls on the table there didn't seem to be any depth, as if it was all in flat 2D. Oh, and no matter how many times I tried I couldn't chip balls off the tables. Now that's something I always seem to do in real life.
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